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Friday, July 2, 2010

President Signs Iran Sanctions Act

U.S. Adds Pressure To A Defiant Iranian Government

President Obama signed yesterday what he called "the toughest sanctions against Iran ever passed by the United States Congress."

President Obama signing Iraning Sanctions Act as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Tim Geitner,
 and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice look on.  Photo/CD Brown.

The administration has aggressively pursued a comprehensive agenda of non-proliferation and nuclear security having joined with Russia to reduce nuclear arsenals through the New START Treaty and strengthening the global non-proliferation regime with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

To that end, it has been Iran who has been the least likely to comply.

Speaking yesterday in front of Congressional members in the East Room of the White House, President Obama stressed that the U.S. has tried work with Iran, to no avail.

For years, the Iranian government has violated its commitments, defied United Nations Security Council resolutions, and forged ahead with its nuclear program, all while supporting terrorist groups and suppressing the aspirations of the Iranian people.

"We offered the Iranian government a clear choice", said Obama. "It could fulfill its international obligations and realize greater security, deeper economic and political integration with the world, and a better future for all Iranians. Or it could continue to flout its responsibilities and face even more pressure and isolation. To date, Iran has chosen the path of defiance." 

The legislation imposes sanctions on individuals who commit human rights abuses, and also  exempts from U.S. trade embargo technologies that allow the Iranian people to access information and communicate.   Additionally, the law will require the Treasury Department to cut off from the U.S. financial system any foreign bank conducting transactions with Iranian entities blacklisted by the United Nations or the American government.

Among those that could face legal challenges and fines are Japan's Big Three banks—Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group Inc.—as well as European firms such as Commerzbank Bank AG and Deutsche Bank AG, all of whom have businesses inside Iran.

The U.S. Treasury has already started dispatching senior officials to Europe and Asia to outline to governments and executives how the new U.S. law could potentially freeze out companies.

The president offered that it's not too late for Iran to comply, should they be read to do so.

"This is not a day that we sought,  but it is an outcome that was chosen by the Iranian government when it repeatedly failed to meet its responsibilities. And the government of Iran still has a choice. The door to diplomacy remains open. Iran can prove that its intentions are peaceful. It can meet its obligations under the NPT and achieve the security and prosperity worthy of a great nation."

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